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April 6, 2022

MITC recognizes Puritan, other Maine exporters for strengthening ties to global markets

The Maine International Trade Center is recognizing four companies that used creativity, innovation and new strategies to strengthen their ties to global markets and help the Maine economy in the past year.
“We’re very pleased to recognize this year’s award winners for their shared commitment to investing in the future of Maine,” said MITC President Wade Merritt in a news release Wednesday. “Whether reorienting global sales strategies, scaling manufacturing in response to sharply increased market demand, or educating the next generation of international leaders, these are stories of resilience in the face of continuing uncertainty.”
Last year was the best performance for Maine’s exports since 2011, with products worth a total of $3.1 billion sent to 177 markets around the world, according to MITC. 
The companies recognized by the center include Puritan Medical Products of Guilford, which was named Innovator of the Year.
In 2020, the global pandemic created an immediate and desperate need for medical-grade swabs manufactured by the family-owned company, which then employed 500 people. Puritan answered that call for help from the U.S. government and immediately ramped up production to serve the domestic need. 
Today, the company has three plants, including two in Pittsfield and one in Orlinda, Tenn., and more than 1,200 workers. 
As swab demand in the US has started to wane, Puritan is now planning to refocus on international customers. The company sells swabs in more than 80 countries worldwide and prides itself on a commitment to personal relationships. Added capacity is allowing Puritan to seek out new global markets.
“Innovation comes from curiosity, and we get curious about things,” said Timothy Templet, executive vice president of sales at Puritan. “We look at a swab and say, how do you make it better? We love it when customers ask about something we don’t make, and it’s a challenge for us to figure out how to develop what they need.” 

DeepWater Buoyancy of Biddeford was named Exporter of the Year.

The company designs, engineers, and manufactures subsea buoyancy products for oceanographic, offshore oil and gas, and technology companies around the world. 
“Anyone that wants to put something heavy at the bottom of the ocean and get it back someday, probably needs us,” said David Capotosto, DeepWater co-president and director of business development.
About 35% of what they produce is exported to more than 40 countries around the globe. When the pandemic slowed oceanographic research and shut down international trade shows in 2020, the company changed its digital marketing efforts to reach new customers and has recently partnered with a company in the United Kingdom to establish business in the growing offshore wind industry.
“For a small Maine company of 25 people to be doing business all around the world, your entire team has to be firing on all cylinders. We have a lot of experience in international markets, and 2021 ended up being one of our strongest years,” Capotosto said.
The Service Provider of the Year is the School of Policy and International Affairs of the University of Maine at Orono. 

The school has produced over 100 graduates in the last 12 years. Those graduates have gone on to jobs that impact the lives of hundreds of thousands, including one graduate who ran an international food security program that fed more than 600,000 children every day.
Students from Maine and around the globe apply for the two-year graduate program that focuses on areas including trade and commerce, security, diplomacy and development, and international environmental and climate change policy.
SPIA alumni come from countries including Germany, Japan, Canada, Ireland, Taiwan, China, Ukraine, Syria, Russia, Turkey, and Nigeria. With 95% of graduates going directly into the workforce, some stay in Maine, while others seek international opportunities.
“What we produce is a service, and there is an export here,” said Jim Settele, director of the School of Policy and International Affairs. “The export is educated Maine and international students. Our graduates aren’t going on to Wall Street to make money, they are going to hard places around the world to make an impact or staying here in Maine focused on public service.”
The Foreign Direct Investor of the Year was Adapt Agency, which designs and creates websites, offering digital marketing, content development, and e-commerce solutions for companies worldwide. 

Copenhagen-based Adapt Agency is focused on offering a better way to experience digital life, MITC said. With offices in Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Lithuania, Adapt chose Portland as the location for its North American office in 2021. 
The company said Maine has a similar sensibility to Denmark: a culture of smart, hardworking people coupled with an appreciation and respect for natural resources. 
Adapt Agency has 175 employees worldwide and is growing its Maine workforce and client list that includes wind technology leader Orsted, as well as WorkHuman and edX.
“Part of our mission is to clean up the digital world. When people stop and think about where energy is being consumed, people are unaware of the rising cost and impact of servers burning and wasting energy on poorly designed websites that simply take way too long to load. We want people to think about the global impact of digital experiences, and we have found like-minded people in Maine to help us achieve that mission,” said Doug Sisko, managing director of Adapt Agency USA.
The award winners will be honored during a Trade Day 2022 virtual event on May 24.

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